DONS slumped to their third defeat in four matches after Coventry City’s smash-and-grab 3-2 victory at stadium:mk on Saturday.
Daniel Powell fired Dons ahead after 15 minutes, but Franck Moussa’s spectacular solo effort levelled things up 11 minutes later. And Ryan Lowe’s strike just before half time was enough to see Dons go in 2-1 ahead at the break.
But Stephen Elliot scored twice within five minutes of the restart, catching a sleepy Dons defence napping to give Coventry all three points, inflicting another home defeat on Karl Robinson’s men.
After the disappointment of Boxing Day’s 4-2 loss to Walsall, after which Robinson lambasted his players’ performance, it was stark contract against Coventry with Dons flying out at the start of the match.
Powell, who was considerably out of sorts against Walsall, looked a new man against City and took the attack to the visitors. And cutting inside Blair Adams onto his left foot, he struck low into the bottom corner to give Dons the early advantage.
Coventry, who had looked dangerous without really testing keeper David Martin, then had a moment of magic which saw Moussa equalise in spectacular fashion.
Picking up the ball on halfway, he skipped past a tackle from Dean Lewington and shrugged off Dele Alli as he made it into the penalty area. Quick feet saw him avoid Shaun Williams’ half-challenge before he fired high into the net, giving Martin no chance from close range.
It was real end-to-end stuff, with both sides looking dangerous going forwards. Gary McSheffery stung the palms of Martin in the Dons net with a drive from 30 yards, while Dean Bowditch and Alan Smith both had efforts go over the top.
But given half a sniff of goal lately, Lowe didn’t need another invitation to find the net and put Dons 2-1 ahead. Picking up the ball just outside the box from Bowditch, he twisted William Edjenguele into a spin, giving the striker time to fire low and unchallenged past Murphy into the bottom corner, giving Dons the edge seven minutes before half time. It was a lead they held, and deserved, at the break.
Maybe it was complacency or maybe it was an eagerness to add a third goal and wrap the game up quickly – either way, Dons’ dodgy defensive start to the second half would ultimately cost them the match.
Elliot, who had missed two decent first half chances, made no mistakes as he rose highest to meet McSheffrey’s deep cross, equalising for Coventry with just four minutes on the second half clock.
And things got worse for Dons a minute later as they were caught up field, allowing Elliot to break, slip past Antony Kay and slot home their third.
But as hard as Dons fought, they simply weren’t given a clear-cut chance to get back on level terms, and they fell to another festive period defeat.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose,” said Robinson afterwards. “It was just five minutes of madness. We just didn’t switch on in the second half. It was difficult.
“I didn’t know what else we could do. Coventry have tremendous strength in depth and Mark Robins has done great work to galvanise them again.
“The performance was important, and we now know where we need to go from here. We were brutally honest after the Walsall game, but today there wasn’t an awful lot wrong.
“In two games we’ve conceded seven goals, when before we’ve only conceded 17. It has stunned us all.
While fans won’t have been too happy at seeing Stephen Gleeson with his foot in a cast in the dug out before kick off, they certainly were pleased to see Gary MacKenzie return to the bench having spent most of the season out with a hip injury.
Robinson added: “I saw him clap the fans and get a standing ovation, but he’s about two or three weeks away from full fitness at the moment. I had to name him because I couldn’t fill the bench.”